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"Practical Permaculture"

 
dan long
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This guy wrote a pretty harsh article regarding Permaculture. What do you guys think? Angry dude who thinks having an internet connection makes him an expert? Or do you think hes onto something?

Be forewarned: strong language!

https://rockysasianadventures.wordpress.com/2016/10/13/practical-permaculture/
 
Burra Maluca
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Put down the keyboard, pick up a spade and get your hands dirty.

Let it never be said that ol’ Rocky doesn’t give em’ a chance to speak up for themselves. The forums at permies.com are a great place to learn and ask about permaculture from someone who isnt such a disenchanted, pessimistic asshole as myself.


I think I might secretly be in love with the guy... 
 
Joseph Lofthouse
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Rocky wrote:If you’re garden is only 10X10 because you cant get enough grass clippings and leaves to Ruth Stout a bigger garden, then it isn’t going to sustain anyone.


Wish that I could have said it that well.

 
Tyler Ludens
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“The greatest change we need to make is from consumption to production, even if on a small scale, in our own gardens. If only 10% of us do this, there is enough for everyone. Hence the futility of revolutionaries who have no gardens, who depend on the very system they attack, and who produce words and bullets, not food and shelter.”
― Bill Mollison
 
Shawn Harper
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Honestly it doesn't seem that harsh. He has reasonable complaints; I think they don't get across because of his broken english and sloppy website layout.
 
Steven Kovacs
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The author has some decent points.  I wish he didn't wrap it in offensive and abusive language.

He does assume that everyone's goal is self-sufficiency, which is a bad assumption.  Personally I realize that my 1/8 acre isn't going to sustain anyone 100%.  What I do want it to do is provide some additional nutritional value and flavor diversity; allow for season extension; provide beauty and enjoyable outdoor time; and help the local pollinators and other critters.  I think some permaculture principles and techniques will be useful in achieving those goals, so permaculture has value for me.  The fact that I can't provide all the calories and nutrition my family needs on 1/8 acre doesn't mean I shouldn't do anything.
 
Destiny Hagest
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Burra Maluca wrote:
Put down the keyboard, pick up a spade and get your hands dirty.

Let it never be said that ol’ Rocky doesn’t give em’ a chance to speak up for themselves. The forums at permies.com are a great place to learn and ask about permaculture from someone who isnt such a disenchanted, pessimistic asshole as myself.


I think I might secretly be in love with the guy... 


I agree Burra - I too, am swooning. I love this guy's writing style, like a punch in the face and a roguish smile. Delightful.

He really does make some great points, I'm feeling compelled to share this on the Permies Facebook page, which I feel is kind of ironic, in and of itself
 
Alex Ames
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Well I am glad I am secure in my manhood. Because I use the ruth stout method to some extent and I do, by design, keep it small. My neighbors don't think so they say I have left gardening and taken up farming. I also like to grow tomatoes and do so without apology. I grow stuff and eat it and continue to do it. It is certainly not accomplished without human inputs. Planning and timing a succession of crops is key but executing it, that is where the rubber hits the road. You also
can maximize perennial crops but every bit of it takes work. My blueberries have to be netted or the birds will eat every last one of them and then I have to go out there and pick them and by the end of the season when a bird gets under the netting you appreciate the help!

If you aren't growing something he is definitely on point and if you don't have something coming along behind it you are going to be eating lite.
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Marianne Hay
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I think he describes himself quite eloquently. As for what he says about permaculture, well, he does make one or two points but I also hasten to remind myself that nothing is perfect and neither are people. If you look hard enough, you can find flaws in everything you look at. Who was it that said: "There is a crack in everything. That's how the light get in."? I agree.
 
Alex Ames
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I love when I get a volunteer that is productive. Then I feel like Bill Mollison or Fukuoka! It is great! I feel I should do more to increase the likelihood of plants
volunteering successfully but it is so random I don't think you can count on it. These Matt's Wild tomatoes did well, also had a basil plant and nice orange pepper plant but that was about it this year so I think we have to be intentional and philosophical all at the same time.
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Tyler Ludens
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"Permaculture as a design system contains nothing new."  - Bill Mollison

 
Craig Dobbelyu
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I think this sentiment is something that many of us have felt in some way, shape or form in whatever we are passionate about.  It sounded to me like a couple main gripes which I can totally identify with. 

Too many posers:  This isn't permaculture specific.  It's everywhere.  The fact is that only one in a million might have the capacity, opportunity and ability to go as in depth as they would like to, has to be considered.  Where people are lacking, they generally try to make up for in talking a good game or repeating outrageous claims about their knowledge set.  There's also the Dunning–Kruger effect which must always be considered.  Some people just don't know how deep the well goes but as long as they can fill a pail for the day, it's all good. 

Too many people trying to reinvent the wheel:  I love innovation as much as the next person but it's extremely frustrating to see people complicating a simple task in the name of "innovation".  Moreover, it's really sad to see them proclaim it as the next big deal when it's perfectly clear to most people that it's just a rickety half-assed and even dangerous methodology.  Does Boom-Squish mean anything to anyone?  Many people start and fail so many projects because they spend too much time, energy, money and aggravation trying to "do it better".  It's only after they've lost the homestead that they realize that they should've done it the way great grandpa did it.  It was ugly but it worked.

Linking agricultural sustainability to the social ailments of the day:  We had a conversation a while back about "purple breathers" that I think touched on this in some really interesting ways.  Rather than jump into that mud hole again, I'll say only this.  It's my opinion that once we've created an agricultural system that efficiently and continuously provides for all of the needs of all of the organisms involved indefinitely and peaceably, all the other bullshit will just go away (mostly).  I think that most conflict is about perceived limited resources and the distribution thereof.  Solve that and I think we'll be so much better off socially.  By linking resource management and social mechanics and saying that we need to solve both of these severely complicated and tangled issue sets at the same time, it puts a lot of people off of one or the other.   Frankly, it's too much to deal with all at once for one small group of people.

I like this particular style of ranting because on the surface it seems like he's putting permaculture down when in fact he's only pointing out the fact that some of us (permaculture inclined people) might be on the wrong track or might be missing the bigger point to PERMA-CULTURE.  It's the permanent part and the agricultural part.  Forget all the other noise about being special, enlightened, right (as in correct) or being marginalized or whatever.  JUST DO PERMANENT AGRICULTURE.  The rest will likely fall into place. When you're doing it right, you'll know it, because it will work. 


For what it's worth I'm a permie (enthused about permaculture and it's potential) and a practitioner of Permaculture (using design to attain my end goals).  I'm not 100% there yet, but I try to keep in mind that geoff lawton took his course with Bill Mollison in 1983.  It's taken that long for Geoff to be where he is now.  How long have Sepp or any of the other well known permaculture practitioners been at it before they attained something close to Permanent Agriculture?  It takes time and lots of it.  Many people are just starting out and many of them will likely give it up.  But some won't give up.    It seems to me that the ones that find success are often the  "Practical Permaculturalists". 
 
Samuel MacHay
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Wow. After watching Paul's lecture from PV1 You tube-PV1 Maybe Paul should look into hiring this guy?  They have the same passion and zeal for the subject.  Get outside and get dirty, build a hugel, dig a swale, plant a garden. The implementation of permaculture techniques, or gardening in general for that matter, is all very, VERY hard physical work.  I'm not sure that Rocky is being negative on Permaculture, per say, but perhaps he isn't a very "Purple Permaculturist". 
(I can't seem to find the thread about the "different colors of permaculture" to link too, if anyone can find and add that, so all will know what I'm talking about. Thanks.)

I tend to agree with Rocky, there are a lot of self-proclaimed experts, and therefore, like everything else in this world...Caveat Emptor - Buyer Beware.  It is up to each of us as individuals to view and consume information with a "Collect, Inspect, then Accept or Reject" mentality.  I've given up arguing the minutia with people, it's a waste of my time.   From what I've learned in my short time of study, Permaculture is NOT a recipe book.  What works for Rocky in his climate, local topography and geology, may not work for me, it may not work Paul, but if it works for Rocky, then GREAT, go for it man!  The permaculture techniques we use to develop our farms and gardens are only tools. It's up to us to pick the right tool for our particular job at hand. A permaculture technique or system isn't wrong, if it works for you, however, it may not be the right technique or system for everyone or every situation.  This is what I believe Rocky is alluding to, there are many people, who believe that the permaculture they are doing IS "Permaculture", that their techniques on their site are THE WAY, and if you deviate from their WAY, then it's wrong.  This philosophy is dangerous and could not be more wrong.  Permaculture demands and depends on diversity.  Diversity of  plants, animals, microbes and fungal species in our gardens, farms and forests, diversity in our ideas and techniques.  Permaculture is the path of many ways, but these different paths lead to the same goals, the three ethics of Permaculture - Care for the Earth, Care for the People, Return of the Surplus.

From his quote near the end of his post, I think Rocky has a lot of respect for Permaculture and what it can provide as a design system.
Let it never be said that ol’ Rocky doesn’t give em’ a chance to speak up for themselves. The forums at permies.com are a great place to learn and ask about permaculture from someone who isnt such a disenchanted, pessimistic asshole as myself.


However I think he has some issues with people who are offering a "bill of goods" with a pretty permaculture wrapper.  Similarly, this is something I've been struggling to understand - Action vs Dogmatic regurgitation  - It is not only prevalent in the Permaculture world, but the world in general and has become exponetially exaserbated by the annoymous culture of internet trolls. I know Paul has struggled with people who automatically denounce what he states, just to be contrary, like a crazy Monty Python skit. Argument Clinic

I think it would be good for everyone to go outside and  get their hands dirty. Observe and learn what works on your site.  It's a humbling task to turn a proper compost pile.  But don't berate me, because I don't turn my compost exactly like you do!
 
Thekla McDaniels
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"What he said", pointing to Rocky.

I believe his word choice is straight from the heart of the disenchanted, pessimistic asshole within him, and don't we all have one of those?  Well us idealists anyway, and especially those who have maintained our idealism for decades?

I think profanity and hate filled language works against what he apparently holds dear.  It serves his anger and frustration at maintaining his own ideals in the company of so much seeming superficiality.  The word choice provides a way for others to discredit what he has to say, by focusing on the incendiary name calling.

What I love, what redeems him in my eyes, is that he does not hold himself apart as perfect.  Nope he goes ahead and directs his negative labeling at himself, which is the inclusivity his words might distract a person from noticing. 
 
Tyler Ludens
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The purity standard of permaculture has gotten so high I'm thinking of disavowing it and just going back to gardening.

 
Donna Lockey
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Grow it, eat it. Be healthy. Be happy.

Do not bash your neighbour over the head with that massive kohlrabi if they want to use a supermarket.

Share what you have, if you have more than enough.

No. I am not a hipster, hippie and dont carry bundles of sticks, but I could if I chose to!

Take a pill. Pet the dog. Do something to chillax, Rocky. Its just edumacational material. Take what you need and ignore the rest.

Now I gotta go hang my tye dye Ts on the laundry line.
 
Jared Woodcock
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Tyler Ludens wrote:The purity standard of permaculture has gotten so high I'm thinking of disavowing it and just going back to gardening.



You nailed it right there Tyler,

The two most significant men in my life were my father, and my neighbor who liked my father's style and sold him the homestead so he could raise his family. I worked for both of them in the garden, planting trees, hunting, building, and whatever needed to be done to survive off the land. There werent any hard rules other than do it right and dont die. They had well thought out designs not because it was cool and fun, but because if you didnt plan out the interactions of what you were doing it wouldnt work. Once I started to meet folks talking about permaculture in college I was confused. I thought I must be missing something. They were talking about the hillbilly/mountain man homesteading style that I grew up with, like it was a new cool way of living and it would save our society. I am still confused about permaculture but I am pretty happy to be "gardening" raising livestock, hunting, fishing, and generally just living the good life amidst the cloud of confusion.
 
Marco Banks
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I don't get this guy's beef.  Who are these posers and f*gs he's writing to?

Everyone who I have introduced to permaculture principles has integrated one, two, three or more of them into their garden.  Sure, they don't sustain their entire family with food grown in their suburban yard.  Who said they have to?  Water that formerly went to water a lawn of lovely fescue is now used to produce cabbages, carrots, tomatoes, apples and comfrey.  Maybe they don't have an elaborate rain-harvesting system like Brad Lancaster, but they've got a row of 5-gallon buckets set up under the eaves of the house, and are catching rain every time it falls.  Maybe they don't have massive swales and hugelbeds, but they've stopped putting their tree trimmings in a green garbage can to be carted off site every Monday morning when the trash is collected.  They have a compost pile or some sort of compost bin instead of sending potato peelings down the garbage disposal.

Incrementally, their lives and their soil are being improved.  They'll never build a pond, never raise a duck, and will never build a cob house powered by a rocket mass heater.  So what.  They will eat a salad tonight with greens picked from their garden (from a key-hole shaped bed!) and will sit under the shade of the avocado tree mulched with free wood chips from a tree trimmer they found on the street.  Small steps are not to be dismissed as insignificant.  I'm a whole lot happier that they have a 10 x 10 Stout garden than I would be if they bought 100% of their produce at Safeway.

The goal isn't to grade people on some sort of 100% purity scale, with an angry guy like him standing over people wacking them them with a stick because they aren't doing enough.  The goal is to move the needle a bit along the spectrum, bit by bit, always toward greater sustainability and regenerative production.  If someone is at a 7 on a 100 point scale, and next year they decide to start peeing on their compost pile, then that is outstanding --- they have just moved from a 7 to an 8.  If the following year they plant some nitrogen fixing plants, learn to can their own green beans and salsa, and redirect their down-spouts away from the driveway and out into the garden . . . FANTASTIC . . . you've just moved from an 8 to 13 on the scale.  20 years from today, they will be producing significantly more calories, sequestering significantly more carbon, capturing significantly more of the sun's energy, and living a significantly more sustainable lifestyle.

Put another way, that 10 x 10 garden this year, will be 10 x 12 next year ---- they want to learn to pickle beets and okra.  The following year, it'll be 10 x 15, with a double-dug bed and a plant guild or two.  The following year, it'll be 15 x 15, with a grey water pipe running from the bathroom sink down to the base of the fig tree.  Bit by bit . . .

Highly egalitarian movements (which describe most environmental or social justice groups) have this incessant need to fight within themselves, judging everyone else for their level of purity/impurity, and generally resisting any sort of organizational hierarchy.  This guy fits that profile to a T.  He bitches about people not doing enough, but all that bitching doesn't move the needle a bit.  Some of Paul's strongest rants are against this kind of hyper-critical critics who really are not building anything themselves in their screeds against profit and impurity. 

His screed is cheep therapy for him, but isn't making the world any better.  Now if you'll excuse me, I've got a passion fruit vine to plant in a space where sunlight is just being wasted and falling uselessly onto the ground.  After that, I've got a group of students coming over to learn about soil health.  I hope to move the scale today from a 61 to a 62.
 
dj niels
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Thank you Marco. I agree, it is better to help people feel they can do something, and start where they are, than to beat them up because they can't do it all. Anything we can grow ourselves is a bit less that needs to come from industrial agriculture.

The way I see it,  whatever I can grow myself, or rescue from a landfill, etc, is a step to help improve one bit of earth. For example, I gladly take other people's leaves and pumpkin vines, etc, to make a compost pile, rather than see them tossed in the trash. Maybe eventually those others will decide to make their own compost, but meanwhile it is helping my highly degraded piece of high desert to become more fertile so I can grow a bit more of my own food.
 
Angela Aragon
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OK. Let me give it a shot. I am proudly one of those FAGS to which the author refers, both literally and figuratively (Fabulous AGricultural Specialist). My wife and I have 8.5 acres in San Ramon, Matagalpa, Nicaragua. Personally, I think that a spade is a "prissy" tool buddy, although I acknowledge that it does have its uses. Instead, I have used a pick and shovel to dig about 300 meters of swales on our property -- and not those dainty ones that have berms the size of a shoebox either. I am talkin' swales with berms a meter high. It took us almost two years to do it. But the well on our property, which had gone almost bone dry, largely because our neighbors dug a well along the same water line about 12-15 meters above us (which is against the law here), is full now full of water. I learned this and other things from Geoff Lawton. I never have met Geoff personally, but took his online PDC and have watched lots of videos. That is right! On my computer!

I understand the point that the blog author is making. Some people are enamored with the idea of Permaculture (and, by the way buddy, learn to spell it before you criticize it) but do not actually DO Permaculture, save discussing the merits of ideas. I do not disparage these individuals as the author does. Actually, they kind of keep me on my toes, as someone that actually IS doing Permaculture.

As Permaculture becomes more mainstreamed, more people will jump on the bandwagon (and most will fall off). That simply is to be expected. Permaculture is hard work, both mental and physical. But for those of us that DO Permaculture, it is a labor of love.

Opportunists, in many flavors, also will be more prevalent -- self-ordained "experts" and horrifically bad teachers that are better at putting people to sleep out of sheer boredom than inspiring them. I put these people in the same category as TV infomercials and pay a similar amount of attention to them. Hucksters will abound, like the guy in Alaska that grows mammothly large vegetables and attributes it to his own special formula for compost tea (which, of course, he will sell to you) when actually the super large size of his vegetables has more to do with the amount of sunlight his plants receive.

Does any of this invalidate Permaculture? No. It simply is chaff that accompanies the wheat. But like any good Permaculturist, permit me to suggest that perhaps the chaff can be useful in helping us to define what Permaculture is and what it is not. Should we expose these people when we come across them? Definitely. Should we go looking for them? Definitely not. That requires too much input for the potential output.

I will end by saying that my wife is a physician, with training in both allopathic and ayurvedic medicine. Similar to those of us DOING Permaculture, she has encountered opportunists, quacks, and other forms of chicanery in her practice, including successful MDs that she wonders
how they managed to pass through medical school and Ayurveda "practitioners" that seem to have gained what they know from reading an Ayurveda for Dummies book. The question is: Do any of these false prophets and overall lazy jerks invalidate HER practice? No. They do not. She just continues to practice her version of medicine, based upon her set of ideals (along with those that she learned in training). Perhaps we in Permaculture should do the same.
 
dan long
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Look like Rocky's up to his old tricks again:

https://rockysasianadventures.wordpress.com/2016/10/17/rockys-guide-to-preparing-a-new-veggie-bed-in-compacted-rocky-soil/

I literally lol'ed at: "There is surely more than one way to skin this cat (and PETA wont like any of them)"
 
Alex Ames
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Tyler Ludens wrote:The purity standard of permaculture has gotten so high I'm thinking of disavowing it and just going back to gardening.



Gardening is about how I would classify what I do. I am mindful of things I have learned through permaculture that help me be more productive
and continue on doing it hopefully for a life time.
 
Kyrt Ryder
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Tyler Ludens wrote:The purity standard of permaculture has gotten so high I'm thinking of disavowing it and just going back to gardening.

Can you elaborate on that point? I get the feeling I have a vague idea of what you're referring to but it isn't really hitting home.
 
Tyler Ludens
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I've seen people argue that if you aren't making a living at permaculture, you aren't "really practicing permaculture." But you aren't allowed to be making your living by teaching permaculture or selling books about it. Or if you practice permaculture in the city, because you can't produce all your needs on a city lot, that's not "really permaculture".  I've even seen people argue that Geoff Lawton isn't really doing permaculture because he doesn't make his living from being a farmer.  I sometimes get the impression that if you aren't working extremely hard doing permaculture you're not really doing permaculture.  It seems like such a minefield of standards of perfection, I can't possibly live up to it. And posting about it too much is bad also, apparently.
 
Waylon Breaux
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Hey all.  I'm new to the whole permaculture world and I've been learning alot from this website.  I was reading this thread and two things occurred to me that I believe everyone should keep in mind.

1) Do the work.  You can read all the books in the world, watch all the videos on YouTube till you're blue in the face.  But until you get out there and get your hands dirty and touch the Mother, you aren't doing anything close to permaculture.  How you choose to do the work is nobody's business but yours, as long as you not causing harm.

2). Attachment causes suffering.  Buddha had it right.  When we hold on too tightly to a certain point of view, we suffer, and those around us suffer too.  Permaculture is not an easy place for those whose highest ambition in life is to be a sheep.  If we attempt various permaculture practices on the land, there ARE going to be some that work, some that don't and some that don't work just like the self appointed grand poobah of the day said it should work.  Permaculture is the perfect practice for keeping what works and letting go of what doesn't. 

Ok, so now I yield my time on the soap box.  Namaste and Goddess bless!
 
Alex Ames
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Tyler Ludens wrote:I've seen people argue that if you aren't making a living at permaculture, you aren't "really practicing permaculture." But you aren't allowed to be making your living by teaching permaculture or selling books about it. Or if you practice permaculture in the city, because you can't produce all your needs on a city lot, that's not "really permaculture".  I've even seen people argue that Geoff Lawton isn't really doing permaculture because he doesn't make his living from being a farmer.  I sometimes get the impression that if you aren't working extremely hard doing permaculture you're not really doing permaculture.  It seems like such a minefield of standards of perfection, I can't possibly live up to it. And posting about it too much is bad also, apparently.


You know as much about permaculture as anybody on earth! Don't let anybody intimidate you! There is something to be said for being a fountain of knowledge.
 
Angela Aragon
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One thing that I have learned (and I mean learned the hard way) is that no matter what you do or how well you do it, there always will be people hovering around to criticize you. However, when you actually look at what THEY are doing, it either is nothing at all or does not adhere to the standard that they are applying to you. I welcome constructive criticism, constructive being the operational word, because it has a potential to make me better. Anything else is not worth my time and energy.
 
Thekla McDaniels
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Angela Aragon wrote:One thing that I have learned (and I mean learned the hard way) is that no matter what you do or how well you do it, there always will be people hovering around to criticize you. However, when you actually look at what THEY are doing, it either is nothing at all or does not adhere to the standard that they are applying to you. I welcome constructive criticism, constructive being the operational word, because it has a potential to make me better. Anything else is not worth my time and energy.


I just want to emphasize this.  I also have found it to be true, the hard way. 

One man in particular, a friend of friends, and they used to bring him around to see what I was doing, assumed he knew what my priorities were, stereotyped me, and always pointed out how I was falling short.  I finally asked my friends not to bring him over.  It is hard enough to even hear my own drummer with all the cultural noise going on, let alone having to bear the brunt of others' biting commentary and sarcasm.   I assume it arises out of his inner turmoil.  In conversation, he waits for someone to talk about something of interest to them, then he mocks it, thinking it's a joke.  Others say he is "playing the devil's advocate".  IMO, the devil does not need any help.

I think it's a common profile of the now disenchanted former idealists, those who lack the courage to hope, the courage to live, the courage to believe there is a future, the courage to try and fail.  I don't feel I have to carry the load of the disenchanted on my back.

I don't think "criticism" is a constructive model, whether intended as constructive or not.  When I need the benefit of others' experience, the most helpful input is when others share an  interest in what I am trying to do, and we then talk about possible options.  And they can put forth THEIR EXPERIENCE as experience and their conjecture as conjecture, and they can parrot what they heard as what they heard.  But I won't listen to anyone who separates themselves from the processes of life and endeavor, and speaks from  the role of expert or critic.  Those people, IMO, are trying to get conformity, trying to get me to adhere to a set of standards, because it will make them more comfortable if everyone follows the expert in whom they have placed their trust. 

Nobody has the full picture.
 
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